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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:43 pm 
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Hi,

People have always been offended by anything/something ... so they have an excuse to say something.

I remember reading the first pages of "Our Lady of Flowers" ... and then just simply getting just totally flattened out ... and later I saw some Mapplethorpe ... and then .... some music by Frank ... and you know what?

I find the reacitons much more "gross" than the material itself. Mostly, the "opinions" come out hiding one's religious or idealistic views ... and Frank's take on that stuff was exactly an attack on that idea ... the hippocrisy of it all ... hiding behind an intelectual this and that ... and Frank didn't care ... about those folks ... which, of course, did not help his communications with the record companies any!

All in all, "art" or "money" loves to hide itself behind some kind of moral bullshit, so seeing Frank do this or that ... is quite alright with me ... it's simply bizarre that we would judge it ... you either like the artist ... WITH the words and insults ... or you are listening to the wrong person!


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:29 am 
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Disco Boy wrote:

calvin2hikers wrote:
I think it's pretty simple: Sex sells, and he used the money to do more of the things he wanted to do.


Today, that's definitely true. But back then, I don't think it was that simple. Because you have to remember that 35-40+ years ago, it wasn't standard procedure like it is now for artists to write and sing about sexually explicit topics. And hence, this was one of the many areas where FZ was WAY ahead of his time...


It may have not been a standard procedure for most pop artists (whom Zappa made seem pretty wimpy in comparison anyway), but a) were the early 1970s not a rather liberal time in terms of sexual mores and b) were Zappa's efforts with Flo and Eddie already not commercially validated in some way? I mean, "Fillmore East" must've been a Top-40 album, in fact Zappa's second since WOIIFTM three years before. This must've set the stage for "Dinah Moe Humm" becoming such an in-demand song in concert.

I do agree that for FZ, this whole "satire + more commercial rock" (as JL Ponty would say) formula was very much in line with Zappa's capitalist instinct of making his musician career as profitable as possible. He had tried to interest the American audiences to the more avant-garde styles of music, but in the end, the Uncle Meat/Grand Wazoo end of things went way over the many heads. Plus, the orchestral projects cost a ton of money as must have the constant equipment upgrades (not just guitar tech, but also other instruments: remember, FZ did often buy the keyboards himself for his players). So of course, FZ had to make things a bit more entertaining. And this was not a betrayal of his ideals: FZ really believed that the audience is entitled to being amused. He understood that most of what is commercially available is validated by the dollars and cents issue.

So he made his own concessions to the more commercial kind of music, that were still in line with his ideology. His musical sensibilities may have been statistically more dense, but he wisely recognised that not every listener can absorb this much density. With regards to Over-Nite Sensation though, he may had very well become very very cynical post-accident. He still wrote things like "Sharleena" and "Tears Began to Fall" for Flo & Eddie, straight-ahead songs of lost-love. This was gone after 1971. If he had more reason after his fall to be angry about many other things in the world, then why should he have been more lenient towards the very idea of a straight love song after that? He may have very well thought, fuck, no reason to beat around the bush, because this world is fucked up anyway, so I'm going to write about the real thing, instead of beating around the bush.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:14 pm 
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Disco Boy wrote:
calvin2hikers wrote:
I think it's pretty simple: Sex sells, and he used the money to do more of the things he wanted to do.
Today, that's definitely true. But back then, I don't think it was that simple. Because you have to remember that 35-40+ years ago, it wasn't standard procedure like it is now for artists to write and sing about sexually explicit topics. And hence, this was one of the many areas where FZ was WAY ahead of his time...
You're missing the point. Cal's hit it on the nose. The whole point is that back then it did stand out and that in itself would sell records. Nowadays it's everywhere and his sex stuff is beginning to sound a bit tame in comparison.

He pointed out himself that the actual percentage of those songs in his repertoire was quite small. So, the fuss that was being made about them at the time is indicative of the general attitude at the time and he was quite happy to climb into the face of that attitude. If he was here now he would be mining another far more topical raw nerve.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 9:50 pm 
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Again, since sexually explicit lyrics weren't utilized as a marketing tool or a commodity at that point in time, NO ONE knew for sure whether or not it would sell albums. Not even FZ.

But what FZ did know, was there would be a big enough market for the music he wanted to make, despite the fact that just about every label out there rejected him and said there wasn't. Just because something technically "stands out" doesn't automatically mean it's going to sell well. If he wanted to sell huge amounts of albums, he wouldn't have even considered making almost ANY of the records that he actually did end up making. In fact, even though many fans preferred FZ's sexually explicit lyrical content over his instrumental or "serious" compositions, that sexually explicit lyrical content actually contributed to the PREVENTION of substantial radio play and likeliness of selling more albums than he actually did. Fillmore East - June '71 was mainly a US Top 40 album because of FZ's decision to include Happy Together, which was a HUGE hit when performed by The Turtles a few years earlier. Also, most of the Flo & Eddie titles are some of FZ's lowest sellers. And I would argue Over-nite Sensation wasn't that commercial. Though, it was obviously more commercial than say Waka Jawaka or The Grand Wazoo. And compared to most of the top artists of the day, he didn't sell that many albums in comparison, even though some people here consider some of his albums "commercial."

Now, I understand the market for rock n' roll was/is MUCH larger than classical/orchestral/chamber music. If it wasn't, then FZ obviously would've made more classical/orchestral/chamber music albums. And because of that and the colossal expenses involved, he could only make a handful of classical/orchestral/chamber albums. But remember, despite the fact that the classical/orchestral/chamber genres were FZ's favourite genres, he liked MANY different styles of music and displayed that throughout his catalogue ten fold and tapped into smaller but related markets to compensate, which thankfully happened to coincide with his particular tastes. Otherwise, I don't think he would've made music he didn't like. So, this idea that some fans think he was only making rock-oriented albums strictly for profiting reasons is nonsense. However, it was part of the reason, yes.

Now, that's genius...

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Last edited by Disco Boy on Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:30 pm 
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OMG ... I recommend that you unclench before you explode ...

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:17 am 
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That's why I've stated "more commercial" for the more pop/rock influenced albums he did. He never did an overt mainstream pop album, but he flirted with mainstream pop stylistics, the earliest precedent being arguably Chunga's Revenge LP with "Tell Me You Love Me" and "Sharleena". http://www.zappa-analysis.com/chunga.htm

Over-Nite Sensation is lyrically risque, but musically it did tap into more marketable sounds than previous albums, like for instance Nashville MOR country parodies, black funk, Mahavishnu-styled fusion, heavy metal guitar sound, the Ikettes. If ONS doesn't appear that commercial, it may be because pop music's tendency to sound homogenized, whereas ONS sounds eclectic and inclusive. In fact, a fair bit of what passed as commercial in the 70s may be un-commercial today!

In all truth, Zappa's rock groups often parodied and/or adapted popular genres of the day. The original MOI did skewer the flower-power pop, but they also had their own freak-out take on psychedelia. Flo & Eddie group went closer to the early-70s blues rock and hard rock stylistics, and it's only fitting that Flo & Eddie did the backup vocals for T-Rex! The Roxy group was heavy on black funk. The late 70s groups parodied both disco grooves and punk/new wave sounds. The Steve Vai era bands had a bit of an AOR/heavy metal influence. And the 1984 band both skewered and approximated the synthetic sounds of contemporary pop bands, to the point of "Tinsel Town Rebellion" featuring mock-quotations from a fair number of synth pop songs. By 1988 rap was all the rage and this was reflected in the song "Promiscuous".

Now the question is: is there any parody of minimalism in Zappa's orchestral music? :D

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Last edited by Ed Organus Maximus on Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:48 am 
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Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
Now the question is: is there any parody of minimalism in Zappa's orchestral music? :D


Dio Fa is exactly that. Proto-Minimalism from YCDTOSA 5 also comes to mind, as well as this little thing from Beat the Boots 3 --

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0029R1UGK/ref=dm_dp_trk2

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:26 am 
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Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
Now the question is: is there any parody of minimalism in Zappa's orchestral music? :D


"Nap Time" on Everything Is Healing Nicely.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:39 am 
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That same album also includes "9/8 Objects", which, come to think of it, is quite heavy on ostinati. It seems FZ was not opposed to including at least some repetitive elements in his music (Help I'm A Rock is just one riff going on, many of his guitar solos didn't have any chord progressions beyond one or two chords). But he must've thought minimalism wasn't statistically dense nor weird and wonderful enough.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:25 pm 
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polydigm wrote:
OMG ... I recommend that you unclench before you explode ...


Wow, that's a convincing rebuttal. You sure know how to stir up interesting discussion!

Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
That's why I've stated "more commercial" for the more pop/rock influenced albums he did. He never did an overt mainstream pop album, but he flirted with mainstream pop stylistics, the earliest precedent being arguably Chunga's Revenge LP with "Tell Me You Love Me" and "Sharleena". http://www.zappa-analysis.com/chunga.htm


Right...but there have been numerous pop influences and/or songs stylized in similar ways throughout FZ's entire career and not just within the time frame you're referring to. They're all over FO!, OSFA, YAWYI, TOU, etc. And this was because he loved '50s R&B & doo-wop.

Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
Over-Nite Sensation is lyrically risque, but musically it did tap into more marketable sounds than previous albums, like for instance Nashville MOR country parodies, black funk, Mahavishnu-styled fusion, heavy metal guitar sound, the Ikettes.


FZ did it because he liked blending many different styles of music together. But I agree that he was aware of the degree of commerciality when doing it. He was writing country parodies long before OS. Lonesome Cowboy Burt on 200 Motels, for instance. FZ was experimenting with fusion before OS as well with WJ, TGW & HR or even earlier. In fact, one could argue FZ was one of the first, if not the first, to even dabble in fusion during the mid-late '60s. Also, Mahavishnu Orchestra didn't/doesn't sell that many albums. And I wouldn't refer to ANY FZ guitar tone as "heavy metal."

Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
If ONS doesn't appear that commercial, it may be because pop music's tendency to sound homogenized, whereas ONS sounds eclectic and inclusive. In fact, a fair bit of what passed as commercial in the 70s may be un-commercial today!


Right...and that's why OS isn't that commercial.

Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
In all truth, Zappa's rock groups often parodied and/or adapted popular genres of the day. The original MOI did skewer the flower-power pop, but they also had their own freak-out take on psychedelia. Flo & Eddie group went closer to the early-70s blues rock and hard rock stylistics, and it's only fitting that Flo & Eddie did the backup vocals for T-Rex! The Roxy group was heavy on black funk. The late 70s groups parodied both disco grooves and punk/new wave sounds. The Steve Vai era bands had a bit of an AOR/heavy metal influence. And the 1984 band both skewered and approximated the synthetic sounds of contemporary pop bands, to the point of "Tinsel Town Rebellion" featuring mock-quotations from a fair number of synth pop songs. By 1988 rap was all the rage and this was reflected in the song "Promiscuous".


Yes...but parody/satirical artists never sold that many albums either. Weird Al sure as hell didn't/doesn't. Though, you could argue Eminem...but that would be an exception.


I guess we'll just have to disagree on the degree of commerciality in FZ's music then?

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"...I'm absolutely a Libertarian on MANY issues..." ~ Frank Zappa, Rochester, NY, March 11, 1988


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:34 pm 
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I always had the feeling that Frank's 'sex-lyrics' were more an 'up yours' to the establishment
than a commercial decision. I think he had a particular bugbear because of the entrapment
incident, and when he reached a level of popularity ( and a slightly more permissive era),
he came out with 'Fillmore' & 'Over-nite Sensation'
It was more like 'Try to get me now you fuckers!'


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:06 pm 
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I'm fairly certain the entrapment had some kind of an effect on Zappa, psychology-wise. He must've written "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" at least partially inspired by this.

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